John C. Longton III
Hudson Valley’s athletic department is actively searching the nation for top candidates to fill the head baseball coach position for the 2016 season, but the team is still preparing to play with their interim head coach Alex Jurczynski.
23 year old Jurczynski has “hit the ground running.” This upcoming season will be an open audition for Jurczynski to secure the job and he and his team believe that they could have a special season.
The team has a lot of incoming freshman and only five sophomores returning, but Jurczynski believes that they have enough talent to do something special. “Our goal this year is to win the National Championship,” said the coach.
“Every day I put a new quote on our whiteboard,” said Jurczynski. “They all have something to do with playing the game the right way and doing the little things.” He knows if his team is going to have a successful season they need to “buy into” his system.
“We have a few more weeks to see where we stand,” said Jurczynski, but as of right now the team shows signs that they will compete in the 2015 season.
Hudson Valley senior Joe Bender, a 3rd baseman from Guilderland, believes that “the team chemistry is great right now.” He said, “Everyone knows their roles and we are one team.”
As for having a young interim coach Bender thinks, “Jurczynski is the right man for the job.” Understanding that the college is actively searching for a permanent head coach Bender said, “I would love for him to stay the head coach.”
Bender will have more of a role in the locker room as a sophomore. The team’s landscape looks much different from years past, because they have a roster that is dominated with incoming freshman.
One newcomer is Travis Sowards, a first year pitcher from Columbia, agreed with Bender. “The team chemistry is off the charts and it’s going to be a fun year,” he said. Sowards brings a “big league” curve to a team that will rely on his right arm to find success.
Right now, the team is constrained to practicing indoors due to the inclement weather, but the team is taking advantage of the facilities that it has on campus. Winter practices consist of a lot of gym time taking ground balls, baserunning and situational work. They also have two batting cages and do a lot of running.
They only have another month or so before they can get outside, but when they do, the team plays in one of the best college baseball stadiums in all of the northeast. “Being able to play at Joe Bruno Stadium is awesome,” said Jurczynski. “When I bring a recruit through the tunnel and out onto the field I know I have him sold once I see his eyes light up.”
Currently, the team has the benefit of sharing a minor league stadium with the Single A Tri-City Valley Cats. The Vikings are allowed to use all of the facilities that the professional team has the luxury of using such as the locker rooms, batting cage and weight room.
“It’s a professional stadium at the junior college level. You can’t ask for much more than that,” said Sowards.
“You feel like you’re playing pro ball because you’re in a pro baseball stadium. Not a lot of colleges have what we have here at Hudson Valley,” said Bender.
Last year the Vikings had a winning record at the home but split on the road. Although the team was only two games over .500 last season, this year’s team is hyped to get their minor league stadium experience.
The team looks to take their good team chemistry and hard work this offseason and translate that to the diamond. The first game this season is March 28 at 12 p.m. as the Vikings host the Schenectady County Community College Royals for one of their regularly scheduled doubleheaders.